“I’m 45th generation Roman”
That’s a line from The Streets track ‘Turn The Page’. As a Brit I was aware before coming out here that persons of Afro-Caribbean descent are referred to as African-American (including, amusingly, Scary Spice, who is, you know, not American). If I thought a little more I could come up with Irish-American, either as rough, tough, salt-of-the-earth firefighters or supporters of terrorists (google for Noraid, I can’t find a link that gives a balanced picture of what they do, nor do I know if the word balance even applies).
What surprised me when I got here was the dedication to knowing that you weren’t American. I know that one branch of my family moved to my home county from southwest England, and I think another branch may come from Scotland, but beyond that I’ve little knowledge of, and certainly no interest in claiming, anything other than my ‘Englishness’. In contrast, here I’d know to at least the 16th part how much was Polish, Armenian, German, Norwegian, Cherokee or whatever (there’s a pecking order here too – Cherokee = very cool, Norwegian = not very cool, but cooler than German, Armenian = where? etc.)
So in the spirit of participation, I now follow The Streets’ example, and declare myself a 95th generation Roman. I can’t promise it’s true, but go back that far and somebody must have been Roman. Disturbingly going that far back also shows that either there were twenty thousand trillion people alive around 0AD whose various sweaty thrustings led in a direct line to me, or it’s a miracle that I don’t have one eye and a banjo.